In Latter-day Saint doctrine, a father’s purpose is to preside over, provide for and protect his family. But the best fathers do that and more.
In this most important of male roles, fathers have good models to look to in the Book of Mormon. Here’s a look at seven tender fathers who show modern-day dads what it takes to be the world’s best.
Lehi: Good fathers share good things with their children.
The Book of Mormon opens with Nephi’s praise for his father, whom he calls “goodly.” He says taught him “somewhat in all [his] learning” (1 Nephi 1:1). We learn more about Lehi’s love for his family in his vision of the Tree of Life, “whose fruit was desirable to make one happy” (1 Nephi 8:9).
When Lehi ate the fruit, he says, he thought of his family. “[I]t filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also” (1 Nephi 8:12).
Jacob: Good fathers teach correct principles, then encourage children to learn the truth for themselves.
Enos’ prayer, recorded in Enos 1:1, is illustrative of how we should pray, what we should pray for and the ultimate power of prayer and personal revelation. But that prayer—which lasted “all the day long” (verse 4)—happened only after Enos’ father, Jacob, taught him the gospel and planted in him a desire to learn the truth.
Enos says he knew his father “was a just man” who “taught [Enos] in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (verse 1). When Enos went out into the woods to hunt, he records, “the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.”
Alma: Good fathers pray for and never give up on wayward children.
Alma believed Abinadi’s teachings and established the Church at the Waters of Mormon. But persecution against him and his family persisted (Mosiah 24:8). Alma’s son, also named Alma, later rebelled against the Church with the four sons of Mosiah.
When an angel visited them to tell them of their error, he said he had come because of Alma’s unfailing prayers:
“And again, the angel said: Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith” (Mosiah 27:14)
Mosiah: Good fathers seek revelation in their parenting.
After their conversion, the sons of King Mosiah refused to succeed him as king and planned instead to teach the gospel as missionaries to the Lamanites—a people who hated the Nephites and would likely try to kill them.
Mosiah’s sons “did plead with their father many days” (Mosiah 28:5), hoping he would give them his blessing.
“And king Mosiah went and inquired of the Lord if he should let his sons go up among the Lamanites to preach the word. And the Lord said unto Mosiah: Let them go up, for many shall believe on their words, and they shall have eternal life; and I will deliver thy sons out of the hands of he Lamanites. And it came to pass that Mosiah granted that they might go and do according to their request.” (Mosiah 28:6–8)
Alma the Younger: Good fathers bear testimony to their children.
After his conversion, Alma the Younger became a great missionary. When his own sons were grown, he bore testimony to them of the redemption of Christ. He shared his conversion story with his sons. Then, speaking to his son Shiblon, he also taught fathers everywhere a great lesson in pointing children toward Jesus Christ:
“… [N]ever, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins. But behold, I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul. And now, my son, I have told you this that ye may learn of me that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness.” (Alma 38:8–9)
Helaman: Good fathers expand their influence outside their own family.
Helaman, son of Alma the Younger, was an excellent father to his own children (see Helaman 3: 21). But before that, he filled a fatherly role to 2,000 young men—and, later, 60 more—who fought in his army. He wrote:
“And I did join my two thousand sons, (for they are worthy to be called sons) to the army of Antipus … For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; … Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” (Alma 56: 10, 46–47)
Mormon: Good fathers have faith in their children.
Mormon lived during a time of great wickedness. He witnessed two groups of people fall after continual war, slaughtering each other in vile hatred. He and his family lived in some of the darkest, most wicked times in recorded history. But he had faith in his son’s ability to choose right, to follow Christ, and to find his way in a wicked world. In a tender letter to his son Moroni, he wrote:
“I am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God the Father in the name of his Holy Child, Jesus, that he, through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you through the endurance of faith on his name to the end” (Moroni 8:3).